Wilhelm Marstrand 
Portrait of Petra Ottilia Marstrand, the artist’s mother, 1835
Oil on canvas
Inventory number: 0255NMK
Donated by Adam Grandjean, the artist’s great-great-grandson, 2024

Wilhelm Marstrand was twenty-five when he painted this small portrait of his mother, Petra Ottilia Marstrand (1778–1847). The sitter’s face and white lace stand out luminously in the dark space. Her gaze is directed towards her son with an air of indulgence, and her arms are crossed. By this point, Marstrand had already made his mark on the Danish art scene with his often-humorous depictions of Copenhagen folk life. The following year, he received a travel grant that would take him on a long educational journey around Europe.


Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873)

Marstrand was among C.W. Eckersberg’s students and was, as the only one, very interested in narrative and illustrative painting. Marstrand worked with genre painting, literary subjects, portraiture and, in later years, history painting. He was frequently employed as a portraitist and painted a series of portraits of members of the Hage family, among others. Marstrand travelled throughout his life in the larger European countries such as Italy, France, Germany and England. He was particularly fascinated by Italy, where he stayed for several years. From here, he became a major producer of peculiar, touching, and often humorous or ironic depictions of the Italian folk life that so fascinated him.

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